March 2007 - ERA Educational Committee

We Don’t Need No Education

By Pat Cauley

As “All Along the Watchtower” bellowed through the room hosting the education sessions, ERA Education Committee Chairwoman Adriana Eiriz couldn’t conceal the grin that came across her face. Fan-favorite classic rock songs opening and closing each session at the Mid-Winter Leadership Conference and EXPO in Miami was just one of many changes that have been implemented to ERA’s education program.

Though attendance at Mid-Winter sessions is historically low, the Education Committee set out to make this a trend of the past. Besides simply playing music, removing the podium that gives a “boring speech feel” and even passing out ice cream bars, the primary emphasis was on improving the content of the sessions.

“We see interest behind the new trends-mobile and online marketing as well as social networking. We need to disseminate more information about the technological trends. We’re past the days of DRTV 101,” says Eiriz. The sessions and interactive workshops at this year’s Mid-Winter Leadership Conference included topics ranging from mobile and text-message marketing to social networking, the future of online advertising and convergence marketing-as well as multi-cultural industry trends. Attendees to the sessions seemed to be impressed with the line-up.

As the Internet becomes an increasingly valuable tool in direct marketing, the importance of understanding how to best utilize this resource becomes paramount to increasing the bottom line of your company. In this regard, Brent Ewasiuk of Oak Lawn Marketing believes Joe Lichtenberg of Eluma delivered a highly effective educational session at ERA Miami, clearly explaining the emergence of social networking on the Internet and how it can benefit your business.

“It was a highlight of the conference,” says Ewasiuk. “It’s these type of educational seminars that increase the knowledge of, and provide true benefit to, all ERA members.”

Looking forward to the annual conference in Las Vegas, the Education Committee is optimistic about the future. One of the biggest changes to take place will be the rebranding of education sessions under ERA’s magazine, Electronic Retailer.

“Branding of the ERA education sessions through each of the properties of the Electronic Retailer Media Group is the first natural step in a process of expanding both the quality and growth of the educational sessions and, in turn, our marketplace,” says Gina Mullins-Cohen, executive vice president of media and publisher of Electronic Retailer. “Electronic Retailer leads the industry in providing fresh content exploring new directions and cutting-edge business practices. Bringing the two together will enhance the industry for all.”

The two-year-old magazine will boost the education program’s visibility to its readership and also provide it more legitimacy. “We’re all working on this together,” says Eiriz. “The Education Committee is totally in favor of rebranding under Electronic Retailer.”

She explains that the committee has realized that you don’t need a lot of sessions, but rather you need strong quality sessions. “We made a lot of noise on the education side in Miami; Vegas will be 10 times better,” says Eiriz.

As CSNY, Eric Clapton and The Doors, among others, played throughout the Mid-Winter Leadership Conference, it became very hard not to agree.


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